How to Source Products
So now we need to actually find the products we want to sell and get them shipped to Amazon. This does present a few challenges… but it’s nothing we can’t handle!
There are lots of places that you can find products to resell, and of course, you do have the option of going direct to the manufacturers. You can also opt to create your own products and get them shipped to Amazon!
The most useful and efficient strategy for you, will be to use Alibaba (www.alibaba.com). Alibaba is to wholesalers what Amazon is to direct B2C sellers. That is to say that it provides an easy method to connect wholesalers to resellers; giving us a listing we can use to browse through the many different offerings on the site!
You can search for practically any product here, and you’ll be presented with a selection of offerings from different warehouses, at different prices, with different minimum orders. You can then easily pick the one that best suits your needs and then have it shipped directly to Amazon’s fulfillment centers. The good news is that almost any company listing a product here will be more than happy to deliver to Amazon – it is functionally no different for them!
Many of these listings are “white label” products. This is exciting because it means you can actually have your branding added to the product. The buyer will never know that a third party was involved and that you didn’t manufacture the product yourself!
How To Choose a Product To Sell
Now you know precisely the kind of thing you are looking for, you just need someone who will let you sell it on their behalf!
As mentioned, Alibaba sells just about every product under the sun, meaning that you will likely find a wholesaler to work with no matter what you want to sell. If you can’t find it, you can always speak to one of the manufacturers about creating your own products! This is very standard practice and surprisingly easy to do.
But before you get carried away and choose your supplier, you first need to make sure that they meet all of Amazon’s requirements, and that you will actually be able to make a profit for them. First, look at the cost per unit of the item. That’s how much you are going to pay for that product. Ask yourself if you can sell this at a high enough markup to make profit after the other associated costs.
Remember, you’re going to need to pay for:
• The bulk order
• Freight forwarding
• Amazon’s carrier
• Amazon’s fees
• Potential returns
• Any packaging
• Any marketing
If you’re giving yourself a headache trying to run this math, then you can use a tool like the AMZSCout FBA Free Calculator
A general rule of thumb is that you will normally charge twice the cost per unit you pay. So if you buy jeans that cost $20 each per unit, you will normally sell those on at $40 per unit. Just keep in mind what the competition is doing, whether your product is worth that much, and whether there is wiggle room for sales and discounts.
Keeping a spreadsheet also helps, and it’s always a good idea to expect the worst.
Next, look at the minimum order. Some are very large (thousands) others are tiny. In some cases, you can buy just two items and then sell those through Amazon. If you’re concerned about this whole notion and want to try a non-threatening sales strategy, then this is a brilliant way to go about it! Add two items to your listing, see if they sell, and know that you didn’t lose that much money if they didn’t!
There are some things to keep in mind before you blow your wad on thousands of items.
First, you need to keep in mind FBA’s policies. For example, Amazon does not permit any FBA prohibited substances to be sold on its site. Nor does it allow for hazardous materials. Certain categories will also require approval.
Find more policies here: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/
Next, you should consider the option of packaging…
One of the most important factors to consider that many people forget meanwhile is the packaging. You must consider how you’re going to package your items to ensure that they arrive at their destination safely and ensure that they are desirable for the customer and remain cost-effective.
Amazon does not handle packaging for you, and if your items arrive loose, it won’t forward them on. Some companies on Alibaba will agree to package for you, but you must ascertain this before ordering.
Moreover, while some companies might offer to add a polybag, you should keep in mind that this won’t always be enough to ensure your products arrive looking attractive. This is one of your few opportunities to increase brand awareness, so don’t miss it!
Creating Attractive Packaging
If you want your products to come attractively packaged (rather than stuffed into a bag), you will likely need to work with a packaging company and provide them with your files.
Before you begin, it’s important to recognize certain industry standards when it comes to packaging that you need to follow. For starters, your files should be saved in the .ai format if they will work with the vast majority of printers. That ‘AI’ stands for ‘Adobe Illustrator’ which is the tool that most companies will use to create their graphics – though there are cheaper alternatives.
It’s also important to remember when designing your packaging that you need to include die-lines. These lines act as placeholders, showing where you are going to need to die-cut your graphics. Usually they will be saved as a separate layer in the file to be removed before the final print, but it’s important to use them as a guide when considering sizing, orientation etc. It’s no good having a big image on the front of the box, but then having to fold or cut it straight down the middle.
Keep it Minimal
To get started, it’s worth looking at some examples of other devices and their packaging. How is the Surface Pro packaged? The iPad? You’ll notice all of these devices because the packages are relatively small and minimalistic compared to what they used to be. This is something that makes sense both in terms of environmentalism and in terms of profit margins. The less materials you use in creating your packaging, and the smaller you can keep it, the better it will be for the environment and the more money you will save on creating those items.
Minimalism is also currently very popular as a design trait – partly because of the pressures that have lead us to prefer saying more with less. Minimalism suggests class, and as it’s also relatively cheap to produce, that’s really the best of both worlds.
Keep it Safe
Of course the other important aspect of your packaging is that it needs to house the item inside safely and keep it secure. If you have a loose gadget rolling and sliding around inside a big empty box, then it will likely get damaged in transit, and that’s something that you need to avoid. When sending, external packaging will help with this, but you can improve your chances by including some bracing inside the box itself and potentially foam or other padding (most mobile phones have foam inside the box these days).
Amazon will provide additional packaging before sending your packages to their destination, but this doesn’t guarantee your item will get there in one piece. If you can add some additional padding in your own packaging, then you’ll have more happy customers!
Make it Desirable and Think About Branding
Finally, it would help if you thought about your packaging in terms of branding and marketing. One of the most important jobs of your packaging is to make your item look desirable so that people walking past it in stores will turn their heads. When someone is on the fence about making a purchase a great box can make all the difference. And in case they don’t make a purchase, ensure your branding is prominent so that they can find the item again after they’ve mulled it over.
To sell any product on Amazon with its own listing, you need to invest in a barcode. This is true whether you are creating new items or whether you are reselling items from Alibaba.
Either way, a barcode is, fortunately, relatively easy to come across. You’ll need to order one from a site like SnapUPC (https://www.snapupc.com/buy-barcodes/).
This barcode will be the same for every item that is sold from a single listing. If you let your manufacturer handle the packaging, ask them to place this onto the polybag or the box. Otherwise, you’ll need to handle this yourself and add it to your design!